February 14, 1945: FDR meets with King Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia.
This meeting, which took place aboard the USS Quincy, marked the first ever meeting between American and Saudi leaders. And on Valentine’s Day, too - how quaint.
a love story
Interestingly, during this meeting, Roosevelt asked King Ibn-Saud (also known as Abdul-Aziz), who, like many other Arab leaders, had taken up the Palestinian case, if it would be acceptable to the League of Arab states for 100,000-200,000 Jewish Holocaust refugees to be allowed entry into Palestine. King Ibn-Saud maintained that while the Arab world was sympathetic towards the plight of the Jews, the dilemma as to what to do with the refugees was a European problem, not an Arab one. It was unfair to push the burden onto Palestine or the Arab world.
FDR also promised that no steps would be taken concerning Palestine without the consultation of Arab leaders, reflecting a U.S. concern for stability in the Arab world and its oil. Unfortunately, FDR died a few months later in April of 1945 and didn’t leave behind any foreign policy plans, recommendations, or strategies for Harry Truman, one of the most idealistic presidents the United States has ever seen. As we know, Truman took up the Zionist cause because he felt enormous sympathy for the Jews after the Holocaust and wound up playing a very significant role as he lobbied nation-states to vote in favor of the ultimately successful United Nations partition plan in 1947, creating the state of Israel.
White House political advisor David Niles said that if FDR had lived, it would have been doubtful that the United States would have challenged the White Paper of 1939, an agreement between Britain, the Palestinians, and various Arab states, promising the creation of an independent Palestine no later than 1949, and it’s unlikely the state of Israel would exist as it does today.